What?! You?!

Over the last three years, through therapy I have opened up to the idea of sharing with other that I have anxiety. No part of me before therapy could have allowed me to share this side of my life. I still sit here terrified to tell the stories of my life and the struggles that I’ve endured. I feel ashamed and afraid of what repercussions could come? Will I lose friends? Will I lose job opportunities? Will people think less of me?

You see I have mentioned that I struggle with anxiety to others who have first mentioned their struggles to me. When I say, “I understand, me too” oftentimes I have heard a shocked proclamation of “what, you?” Then person after person say they don’t know how someone who can get up on a stage and do the things I LOVE to do can have any form of anxiety. Most people know me as outgoing, an extrovert, a people person, a laugher and someone who is generally upbeat. I am, but I fight to be that in day to day life unless I’m using humor.

I love theater, the stage feels like home to me, performing is like second nature as some would say, but first nature to me. It’s a comfort to me and my way of free expression. I’ve loved performance all of my life, for as long as I can recall.

“A Bad Year for Tomatoes”

You see when I am onstage as someone else, I’m not Dora, I am the character I play, immersed in the story the cast is sharing, I am away from myself. I’m putting the one talent I have true confidence in to work and it feels wonderful! I love to make people laugh, to see them smile and happy.

I found that comedy was my way of making tough situations less tough. I found a means of making people laugh and that defused a lot of tension. My homemade costumes and silly antics were the one time I could see Mamaw smile and laugh, she actually seemed to enjoy me during the times I put her wigs on or dressed up like Steve Urkel! It was nice to have her like a part of me. I could always make my friends laugh and very much loved to do so. I could make my mothers alcoholic husband laugh or laugh with him when I sensed he was growing irritated.

When I put on a costume, work to produce a play or musical show of some sort it doesn’t feel like work, it’s not difficult, it feels like home. I sought any kind of performance avenue I could find through school, marching band, cheer, flag corps, speech and drama, forensics, 4H. If there was a talent show, I was in it. I danced, I frolicked, I felt alive even when there was no one there in my family, not one person to ever watch me thrive, I kept on.

Being a comedian at heart is a joy, it’s a protection, it’s a way to make others feel glad to be around you. Sadly, so many folks like me struggle with inner turmoil. We become clowns for a reason then build upon it. Don’t we all throughout life find what works for us then foster the good parts if we can, the parts that make us feel stronger and more capable of being?

Think about the struggles you know about with Robin Williams, one of the greatest comedians of all time and JIm Carrey as well? Both of these men have struggled with depression.

“Robin publicly acknowledged his depression and anxiety in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. In 2003, he was admitted to a substance-abuse rehabilitation center in Newberg, Oregon, to deal with his alcohol addiction.”-SciELO.com

“Jim Carrey has made a career out of making people laugh. Yet Carrey’s humour was born out of ‘desperation’ while growing up with an ailing mother and an unemployed father. To help make ends meet, he dropped out of high school and went to work full-time. Depression was a constant battle for Carrey, and he was medicated on and off for years.”-The Psych Professionals

It’s strange how comedians seem to be born out of struggle. We have natural comedic abilities and when we used them as children we saw it effect positive change in our day to day lives. For me being silly is natural, but it can be too much for some people as well. I genuinely and with my entire heart love to see people happy and laughing. There have been a few times in life I know my attempt at humor wasn’t well received. That was tough. It’s hurtful to feel unliked and unappreciated for something that has been helpful to me throughout life. Though I was using my humor and others were as well I was too much. I was the one who failed, the one who tried too hard to reach the hearts of others through the one way that’s always worked in the past. It’s my own fault for trusting that I could be a source of comfort to people who really would rather go about their lives than to be fooled with a fool like me. In the past my comedic turn has been met with eye rolls, yes I have seen them all. I’ve seen people who were used to being the one who made others laugh grow to dislike me, because they were used to the reward of laughter. When that stops, that can be a huge gut punch, I’ve felt it! I’m not always the funniest in the room or the most outspoken, some have accused me of being stuck up!!!!! Now THAT is funny! It takes me time to warm up to strangers, so those strangers at times may think me too quiet. They just don’t know me yet. I don’t trust easy and I can read a room and a person like I can read a book, I’m highly perceptive. I learned to be, I had to be. I had to watch temperaments closely to protect myself.

“Leading Ladies”

A little of me is okay, a lot of me is too much for some. We can’t be liked by everyone, all the time, but I believe every reader here can admit that they want to be! Who wants to be disliked, no one? Who cares about the quote “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you cannot please all of the people, all of the time!” EVEN IF IT IS TRUE!

I am a people pleaser, it’s a fact, this can be good and it can be many times terrible. I shouldn’t be, but I learned to be. I learned to work, to offer help, to do whatever I could to show others that I do care and I want to help, I am worthy of your love! So even though I am an anxiety ridden fool, I can be on the stage and do what I do, because for all the folks out there who may not like a comedian, there are thousands more who do! So I keep on, because the only part of me I love is my ability to perform. I will never cease my love for the stage, theatre, laughter and giving back to others through my own self deprecation in costume and hideous makeup or whatever comes my way!

I’ll keep chasing my dreams and you should too! Even if you struggle with anxiety, depression or panic attacks like me YOU can succeed and push through the pain. Cease the gift that God blessed you with and build upon it. Don’t let anyone steal your joy or the pride you have in something you thrive in doing. We as people who have struggles need all the encouragement we can get and finding the silver lining in so many dark clouds can be difficult. When one person doesn’t laugh with me or at me I know it’s them, not me. When a person cannot laugh and they become too serious in life they have their own issues and it’s up to them to work through it.

As for me, YES, ME! I’m gonna work my hardest to be back on a stage somewhere nearby. I’m never going to allow my anxiety to take away what God gave me to help cope with the fears, dread, worry, abuse and scary times of life. God will open up a window or door or crack when we need it most. We just have to summon the courage to climb through.

A little side story…

God gave me Barter Stage ll upon the one year anniversary of my Granny and Uncles simultaneous deaths. Just at the time when I would be struggling deeply with depression and the reminder of losing my precious Granny he gave me a gift I had dreamt of. From a child I wanted to be on a Barter Theatre stage I dreamt of it, hoped for it, longed deeply for it, but didn’t think it would ever come, but just when I needed it, it was there. You see WHEN I needed it. God does know our hearts and He gives freely to those who love him, in HIS timing. He knew this would help me through the grief of losing Granny, the second person in my life that mattered more to me than anyone. I was on a Barter stage, as myself, but making people laugh. It was almost as if it wasn’t me, because me was standing backstage pacing, anxious and afraid, but as soon as that music hit I was the Dora who could do anything. You may not believe it, it may seem shocking, but being on a stage, performing is life to me and I thank God for giving me this gift and I pray that you, whomever you are, will grasp hold of your natural ability and fly high with it.


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